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WORDS OF DELMARVA WISDOM: “What may be the manhood and history [ahead for] a plain boy in rural life?”

John Fletcher Hurst Think about this question the next time you pass by a couple of kids working the water’s edge with fishing poles or crab nets. Such scenes remain quite common along the backroads of Delmarva, of course, just as they were when John Fletcher Hurst was growing up in Dorchester County, Maryland in the 1840s. Despite suffering from occasional debilitating bouts of asthma,…
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When a Bunch of Birds Lost their Minds and Attacked Hog Island Light in 1900

The scene that unfolded on a February night back in the year 1900 on Hog Island, Va. was straight out of the Alfred Hitchcock horror classic “The Birds.” A flurry of unusual avian activity was in the air along the Atlantic Flyway in those weeks. A long and unseasonable stretch of warm weather had set a whole bunch of birds off on their northward spring…
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Chincoteague Character of the Day: Thomas Downing, the ‘Oyster King’ of NYC

Growing up in Chincoteague, Va. in the 1790s and the first decade of the 1800s, Thomas Downing spent much of his time fishing, oystering, digging up clams, and catching terrapins. He must have spent a good bit of time around the kitchen as well, considering the way he grew up to become one of the most famous restaurateurs in New York City—the “Oyster King of…
Quote of the Day

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Ladies would not go out in their carriages” if “that horse frightening machine” was on the road …

The first automobiles to appear on the Eastern Shore of Virginia apparently caused quite a ruckus among the horse-and-carriage set. Here is an account of those early automotive days from The Eastern Shore of Virginia: 1603-1964, by Nora Miller Turman. You can find the book in area bookstores that carry an extensive collection of local titles, or here online. Some people had seen horseless carriages, called…
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Ocean City Character of the Day: Rosalie Tilghman Shreve & the Plimhimmon Hotel

A century ago, the Plimhimmon Hotel was the most famous and iconic structure in the then-fledgling resort town of Ocean City, Md. Old pictures of the place, with its elegant oceanfront porches, expansive decks, and swooping, cone-shaped tower, have a way of leaving us modern folks weak at the knees from yearning for the splendor of yesteryear.  But there is much more than nostalgia to…
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PICTURE THIS: The Story Behind the Twin Bridges of Dorchester County

    You know how the traffic goes on Kent Island come summer weekends? The backups begin many miles before from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. A legion of goofballs make it worse by looking for shortcuts when they don’t have a clue where they’re going. The poor local people end up trapped inside their houses, afraid to even run a little errand. Things used to be…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

QUOTE OF THE DAY: The Know Nothing Election of 1855 in Onancock, Virginia

Election day is coming up on Tuesday, and folks seem to be pretty excited and upset on both sides of the aisle. It was like that back during the Know Nothing election of 1855, too. John Sergeant Wise was a child then, living along Onancock Creek on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He would have been 11 or 12 during that gubernatorial election campaign, which…
October 28, 2018
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

QUOTE OF THE DAY, 1922: “Mainland folk have been prone to think their kinsmen on the islands of the Eastern Shore a bit barbaric …”

In 1922, Edward Noble Vallandigham wrote a book full of interesting essays about the towns, churches, and people of the Delmarva peninsula. Delaware and the Eastern Shore has a great subtitle: Some Aspects of a Peninsula Pleasant and Well Beloved. Here, Vallandigham gives his views about the people who inhabit the remote islands of the Eastern Shore.   Surnames are so few on some of the…
September 23, 2018